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Best Gameplay & Story


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The Sonic series has released dozens of games over the past couple of decades.  Most of the titles being pretty great while others are... let's say less than impressive.

Many of these games have also had their own story to tell.  Again some good; some not so good.


My question to you, Sonic faithful, is which game (or games) in this series do you feel best implemented both great gameplay and great story?


My vote goes to this game:




With these two as runner-ups:

Sonic_Rush_Coverart.png Sonic_Rush_Adventure.jpg


My reasons being that, in my opinion, these titles brought two of the best character arcs and some of the best character interactions in the series.


What say you all?

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I'm going to say Unleashed probably had the best story/gameplay ratio.


Yeah, the Werehog exists. Yeah, he's awful and plodding in the WiiS2 version. Yeah, Eggmanland is a nightmare in the HD version.


But the Sonic gameplay? Easily the fastest Sonic's ever gone before or since, and even just watching the HD version gives me thrills. Speeding through bright, colourful and detailed environments is what Sonic was in 1991, and so it is what he is here. The hub worlds give the impression that Sonic Team learned from their mistakes with '06: they're all distinct, they're just the right size, the side missions aren't inane bullshit and all the denzins are so much more memorable and filled with character just from design alone than any '06 NPC not named Sonic Man.


And the story? Top notch. The charactersations are perfect (with Eggman being a hammy goofball genius even when he actively tries to murder Sonic with the Egg Dragoon), the atmosphere is amazing (it's light hearted and only ever takes itself seriously when it needs to) and OH MY GOD THE OPENING CUTSCENE.


Even with the Werehog, Unleashed HD is likely the most atmospheric and ambitious game that's ever come out.


/channeling inner Vertekins

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I personally think that Lost World had great gameplay and story, especially story.


I've already mentioned this before, so I'll just post them here.



Lost World did have a bunch of gameplay styles like a Mach Speed level, Snowball level or a Sky Chase-esque level but these only take up one level. The bosses were a bit too easy due to the new Charged Homing Attack but the last fight with Zavok was creative to say the least. The new controls does take some time to adjust but once you get it down, it controls pretty well. It's great that the levels are expansive but it lacks some memorability since they do feel a bit same-y with some levels. It's great that the game makes enemies more of a threat than just obstacles that gives you Boost energy and it's also nice that they spiced things up with the combat and it's cool they brought back the Bounce Attack. The parkour is a cool idea but the levels don't really make you use it a whole lot and it sometimes can get in your way as well and the Color Powers aren't incorporated into the game as well but they're completely optional. The music for this game is great and I consider it the best Sonic soundtrack yet and I am completely disappointed in myself for not playing the game yet.
Lost World's story is probably somewhere in my top 5 favorite stories since it had hilarious moments between Sonic, Tails and Eggman and the Deadly Six are very interesting characters despite being a bit stereotypical but that's part of their charm. It really showed us different aspects of our beloved characters like the sadness of Sonic or the jealousy/anger of Tails, it was a bit sudden but it's completely justified. The ending may needed some work but the extra scene just wins it for me! XD 
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Unleashed isn't the best game nor has the greatest story, but regarding the integration with one another, I have to agree with previous comments. It's on top. 


The game introduces itself with an incredible CGI opening that excellently introduces you to the game's plot. It then reels you into the first stage, and soon a collection of hubs connected by a world map, where you get to feel the game's world for what it is: a Pixar-esque take on real world locations that oozes the style and charm that made Sonic so lovable to begin with.


It follows through with a mostly solid story, and while some characters aren't exactly at their highest points (Tails, Amy), Sonic and Eggman are stellar, and so are the characters new to this story (Chip, Prof Pickle, Wentos, SA55/Orbot).


Some story points are strange (the whole Werehog thing) but the narrative tries to make the best of it, and while there is a few areas where the story slows pace a bit, the stages themselves (as well as the boss battles) do not. Or at least, not to an extreme amount.


Even past the main campaign, you're still given the entire aforementioned hubs that allow you to meet and interact with the civilians of each area you visit, collect all kinds of goodies (like food) that have their own descriptions by both the game and Chip's comments, and bonus CGI clips that add all the more charm to the experience.


Add all that and the Night of the Werehog short together, and it really shows how great the craft behind the game was. It may be a bit far from being the greatest Sonic game, but it's got more heart and effort behind it than most of them, and I think that makes up for a lot of it.

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Best gameplay goes to Generations, since it captures everything good about both eras while doing some new things with them.


Best story is either Adventure 2 or Colors. Adventure 2 had an amazing story (to me, anyways), while with Colors, I admit I'm a sucker for humor.

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I despise Adventure 2's story. It's all over the fucking place and it's riddled with plot holes and shoe-horned plot elements (*cough Knuckles cough*). It was trying WAY too hard to be something that was way out of grasp.


My vote goes to either Unleashed or Colors. I see many arguments have already been made for Unleashed, so I'll talk about colors. I just adore the simplicity of it all, and the new team that was brought in to write the dialouge did a stellar job, as well as the voice actors, Pollock and Smith especially. I actually really enjoyed Jason Griffith a lot as Sonic, especially in his later games like Black Knight and unleashed as well, but I can't complain about Roger Craig Smith, he's just too good. Anyways, I think Sonic stories should stay simple like Colors, but not TOO simple like Generations. Generations is another game that has a completely abysmal story in my opinion.

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I despise Adventure 2's story. It's all over the fucking place and it's riddled with plot holes and shoe-horned plot elements (*cough Knuckles cough*). It was trying WAY too hard to be something that was way out of grasp.


Are you sure you weren't mistaking it over 06?

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I will never stop dick-riding this game.




The game was fantastic with the Chip/Sonic duo, being possibly the best duo, I've ever seen. Their dynamics together were just so natural and realistic, to me. And the game, oh my the game, I adore it. Daytime and nighttime, admittedly the Werehog isn't exactly Devil May Cry, but it works fine /in my opinion/ and -seemingly- knowingly, with the nighttime levels taking around 8-12 minutes, they really refined the Werehog.


I would like it more if I didn't hate Chips' voice actor, he's always whispering.

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Best gameplay would have to go to Sonic Generations. Call me biased, but it is the game that officially got me into Sonic and his fanbase after all. It just does so much right. There's no unnecessary baggage like medal collecting or anything, the level design in both gameplay styles still brings me back for more after all these years, due to hidden pathways, extra goodies, and simply being compelled to replay it over how damn fun it is. It just feels so polished in many areas. 


Story would have to go to Sonic and the Black Knight. I love how unconventional and different it feels from any other Sonic plot, while staying true to Sonic's core personality and morals and testing his mettle in many ways. I like how everyone goes through their own character arc, I actually felt bad for the Villain Merlina, as she had a reasonable motive for her scheme, and I get a feeling of growth and change at the end of the plot from everyone. I actually had a reason to FEEL for everyone involved. Not many Sonic stories do that for me and touch my emotions in that way.


If we have to tie story and gameplay integration together... huh, let me get back to you on that. For now, I suppose I have to go with Sonic Adventure. There were a lot of stupid gameplay decisions scattered throughout, and I don't really think its aged well at all presentation wise, but I have to give it credit where credit is dude for simply trying to tie all the character stories together and do a good job explaining why we're playing as them and going through levels to begin with. On a conceptual level, I like giving each character their own unique POV, in spite of inconsistencies noticeable later on. It makes us feel like we're really getting inside their head, and the character's we're playing as feel human (er, so to speak).

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Best gameplay? Still lovin' Unleashed and playing it last night for the first time in a while made me love it even more. I love the day stages. I love the night stages and that's that.


Best story? I still stand by my belief that Secret Rings has the most competently-told, intriguing story with stellar Sonic characterization that is second only to Black Knight's portrayal of the character and which I consider near-flawless. I think the only real flaw this portrayal of Sonic has is perhaps, perhaps his lack of concern for himself. Show a little concern for yourself at least ONCE Sonic! You're freaking DYING!


It delved into Sonic's psyche arguably better than Unleashed did and the plot points were genuinely fascinating. Yeah, you know everything is going to turn out right by the end of the game because it's Sonic innit? But it's the way it gets to that point that's so good.
It has so many aspects that factor into what makes a Sonic story great in my view. Intriguing and well-developed character dynamics (Sonic's interactions with many of the other characters, Shahra and Sinbad in particular), a measure of tension (Sonic's mortality haunting him and the race against time to save his life, the race to stop the Ifrit before it burns away the world), a diabolically clever villain with tremendous power and a certain degree of intrigue about him (Erazor, his devious plan, his backstory, his relationship with Shahra) and a plotline that holds my attention from start to finish despite the basic outline (Gathering the World Rings) because there's depth to it beyond that basic plot.

You're only two cutscenes into the game when, as a result of a selfless action, Sonic is given a life or death ultimatum. Erazor establishes complete control of Sonic right from the get go only in the second cutscene into the game and has him on the edge, even holding complete sway over his very fate and he has an obviously profound emotional influence on Shahra. He's a calculating and opportunistic villain who knew what he had to do and got right to it. He knew that as a denizen of the book, he didn't have the ability to touch the rings or access their power without self-sacrifice so he malevolently manipulates two other characters to play right into his hands and accomplish most of his plan for him. And it works. Only two very well written-in plot points ultimately thwart him.
Please tell me, why doesn't this guy get the praise he deserves? Why are villains like Mephiles, a complete idiot, coward and unoriginal dreck of a character, put on a higher pedestal than him?
Things get even more interesting when the Yellow World Ring is attained and Shahra divulges the mythology that surrounds the Rings and what is required to tap into their power. Sonic is momentarily concerned over the implication that he's intended to be a sacrifice and that he's pretty much got a Morton's fork on his hands but remains confident that his abilities are more than adequate to get him through anything. Yeah, maybe a bit unrealistic but again, that is the eternally confident optimist that Sonic always has been shining through.

Both Genie and Hedgehog continue to attain World Rings come hell or high water including the problem with the Ifrit, being unable to lay so much as a homing attack on it because both it and Sonic are of the same elemental alignment, Sonic having to make up for this issue by weakening the Ifrit's fire alignment by dousing it with water. Pretty clever plot point that intelligently lengthens the story.

From then on, whenever they obtain World Rings, Sonic gives some interesting commentary on their powers. The one that sticks out is the cutscene when he gets the White World Ring

He reflects on the power that the Ring holds (Desire) and muses over what constitutes desire, such as aspiration or greed and ambition. It leads him to wonder about what it is that Erazor wants by getting the Rings if they contain power that can be used to attain happiness or misfortune. Of course by this point in the story, Sonic does not know what the Rings are supposed to be used for (He knows nothing about that door that opens when all of the Rings are put into it yet) or what exactly Erazor wants by sacrificing him. It's a cutscene that shows that Sonic is more introspective than you'd be inclined to think.

Later on, you get the impression that Sonic is very in touch with his mortality and despite his earlier-shown confidence, is now perceptibly concerned about his curse. This concern is shown earlier when he asks Shahra if she can remove his arrow just after they get the Green Ring but it seems to come up again when he collapses to his knees before Night Palace's gate, clearly affected by the curse.

Jason nailed his nervous laugh in that cutscene smile.png Even when he's clearly suffering, his only real concern is not worrying Shahra and apologeticness for unintentionally making her feel guilty. He even tries to cheer her up by reminding her about their promise. Call this kind of attitude very goody two-shoes-esque and even maybe a tad maudlin but screw that, this cutscene shows that Sonic has a lot of heart and the way his friendship with Shahra develops throughout the game gives this cutscene quite a bit of gravity.

Story proceeds. They find the Purple Ring and Sonic admits that he'd been wondering about the connection between Shahra and Erazor and Shahra reluctantly reveals that Erazor seemingly became what he became from his written fate. This has the implication that Erazor is pitiable despite being utterly vile and unrepentant because he was basically dictated to be that way. It's also revealed that Erazor seemingly looks down on Shahra because she's "merely" a genie of the ring, implying that he despises her comparative weakness (As later stated by Erazor himself after he unintentionally kills her when he says "In the end, such is the fate of a mere genie of the ring", implying that weaklings deserve to die) or that he considers her lower than him just because she isn't a genie of the lamp.

It all comes to a head in the last story when Shahra reluctantly hands the rings to Erazor and Sonic uses his position as her master to demand that she do what she thinks is right. Torn between the two things she wants to do and magically contracted to obey Sonic, she collapses and Erazor gains the rings anyway. Of course to gain the true power of those rings, he has to slaughter their collector and so goes in for the kill on Sonic. Shahra, seemingly realizing that the right thing to do (As demanded by Sonic) is to intercept the attack and she throws an almighty wrench into Erazor's plan by becoming the wrong sacrifice. Of course, it's entirely possible that Shahra was motivated to sacrifice herself on Sonic's behalf because he took the bullet for her earlier and because he treated her with kindness.

This one action brings to fruition a series of believable events that work in Sonic's favor;

1 - Erazor is forcibly morphed into an incomplete monster as a result of not getting the right sacrifice. This prevents him from gaining the power required to cross between the world of the book and the real world.
2 - Sonic's emotional response to her demise has the effect of turning him into Darkspine, allowing him to go toe-to-toe with Alf Layla Wa-Layla. The transformation also negates Sonic's flame arrow.
3 - The sacrifice has the effect of making Erazor's disfigured lamp return to a usable form.

Darkspine kicks Erazor's ass in one of if not the most vicious boss fight in the entire series.

I've already stated about three times before why the ending to SatSR is the best Sonic game ending wink.png

I think that the story aspects fit together like a wonderous jigsaw. The Arabian Nights setting is very well utilized and extremely appealing, the characters are delightful and Erazor is one of the most evil and competent villains in the series and Sonic was characterized absolutely wonderfully. Shahra was a great character and you can tell clear as day that she never wanted to hurt Sonic and indeed feels genuine guilt and remorse for getting him involved. Her regret over the fact that she's leading Sonic on is even implied in certain cutscenes;



Best gameplay AND story in-tandem? Unleashed.


One thing I've always liked about this game is how the game's premise is so well-utilized - It's a world adventure. Sonic treats his quest as a "great excuse to see the world" and you know what? He abides by that. You see him and Chip enjoying the local cuisines. You see them interact with the locals. You even see that they took many photos of their adventure as shown in the credits and Chip even gets Sonic to take a photo of him in front of Eggmanland's Eggman statue :lol: There are multiple stages that actually show that you're approaching the temples of Gaia specifically Chun-Nan (The original iteration of Dragon Road Night Act 1 ended right by the temple. The goal ring was moved in the final version of the level) and Shamar in which you can actually see the temple in the day stage beyond a canyon with grind rails in it. Another thing that backs-up the world travel premise is the fact that you get to go to locations that don't actually have a Gaia Temple (Empire City) just for the sake of seeing and experiencing it. Unleashed goes to the efforts of including levels that aren't even required to be visited in the narrative, it's that loyal to it's premise.


What I also loved about Unleashed was that travel between continents is actually shown and interacted-with in the form of two Tornado Defense acts and that sets the logic about how travel between the continents works. You can even see the Tornado parked atop the water in Adabat's hub.


The world exploration premise is also nice because it allows Chip himself (Itself?) to experience a planet he's been a part of since time immemorial yet who never got to experience what really living on it was like and that's...actually pretty touching in a way. And then there's that theme of duality which is partly shown by the way the game changes between day and night.


Really, Unleashed was just awesome at melding it's gameplay and it's narrative themes together.

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Is this topic asking which game has the best gameplay and story separately, or which ONE game does both relatively decently? Because the answers in the topic kind of lend it to both instances so I'm kinda confused.

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I just assumed it was about doing them both well, going by this..



My question to you, Sonic faithful, is which game (or games) in this series do you feel best implemented both great gameplay and great story?

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Oh wow. So much thoughts.

So anyways, I'd say Adventure 2 with Adventure 1 and... suprisingly Heroes maybe?

For Adventure 2 I say, I always loved it's characterization of the crew. There's so many little tads and pokes here and there that really brought them out to me. Sonic's actions and facial expression really get me. Take say the helicopter scene at the beginning, he didn't know the stakes so he was doing his usual shtick but as the story progressed and the stakes got high you could see how the jokes he made fit with the moment. Take after Knuckles ditches, he makes a joke about it but it's timed right. And unlike current stories he didn't mock the big lizard thing he frickin hauled butt after it. It just really brought me in and Shadow was so enjoyable because not only was he, at the time, "dark sonic" but you could feel every bit of his deleme.

If I say anymore I'd probably come off as brown nosing the game but wow did I love it. And to me treasure hunting and speed stages were SO fun that I could feel the tone and emotion EVEN in the stages.

Why I say heroes? Also because of these little tidbits. As Vertekins pointed out in another topic things like Shadow putting his dukes up at Omega and his littt nods agreeing with Rouge and just how much the characters do things in cutscenes. While not all of them are goid cutscenes they do also give off the Team's overall feel.

Suprised no one said S3K : P I like that too but the story, while good, didn't suffice my story appetite.

Also what killed Unleashed for me is probably because back when I was littler I couldn't handle the boost so I didn't get as into as I could have. And even now being good with boost, there's something just a little something missing.

So yeah SA2 won the cake for me Adventure cutting close.

(Also also... ryan drummond. Joking. Kind of : P)

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I despise Adventure 2's story. It's all over the fucking place and it's riddled with plot holes and shoe-horned plot elements (*cough Knuckles cough*).

Uh...no it wasn't.


The plot elements connected to Knuckles was more of a Chekhov's Gun, something which by definition isn't shoe-horned since it plays an important and relevant part later on, only appearing useless early in the story. They had the Emerald in the first act, and then used it in the third, otherwise there was no point in having it there, and by proxy Knuckles himself.


And I say this as someone who consistently rages at shoe-horned plot elements like that. SA2 had some problems, but it does a decent job covering its ass over compared to other plots.


That said, it's hard to pick which has both the best gameplay AND story. Most Sonic games only fit one more than the other:


Best gameplay for me? Sonic 3 & Knuckles. To this day, there is no Sonic game that can top it for me.


Best story? That's even harder.

  • Both the Adventures had a decent story to them, giving the series more intensity and tension, adding to the old lore or trying to make a new path while using what old material they could to keep things connected (and SA2 could have done more, but I'm going by the cards I have right now).
  • Unleashed has excellent worldbuilding in its story, more so than both the Adventures by allowing you to visit international locations across continents instead of local areas. And I actually liked Chip, just when I was gearing up to hate him. (although I still hate characters being one-shot)
  • Sonic and the Black Knight actually manages to have great characterization and, after so long of the same predictable thing, pull off a decent twist that I didn't see coming - and while I should say they could have done better giving you more cryptic clues to sow some uncertainty, while giving it more substance, they managed to pull it off for what they did.
  • Sonic Lost World manages to have some decent characterization with Sonic, Tails, Eggman and his robots when it was lacking in titles like Colors and Generations. Unfortunately, it plays too safe for my tastes and neglect all the other stuff in the past as it brought in new elements. I'm someone who believes that if your going to make new things, bring more of the old along with it so there's less of a sour clashing with the reception of some people.

So yeah, it's a four (five?) way split between the Adventures, Unleashed, Black Knight, and Lost World.

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Uh...no it wasn't.


The plot elements connected to Knuckles was more of a Chekhov's Gun, something which by definition isn't shoe-horned since it plays an important and relevant part later on, only appearing useless early in the story. They had the Emerald in the first act, and then used it in the third, otherwise there was no point in having it there, and by proxy Knuckles himself.


Okay maybe shoehorned isn't the correct term, but the amount of disbelief required to suspend to enjoy this mess of a plot is ridiculous. Staying on the topic of Knuckles, it's by an incredible stroke of unbelievable luck that he so happened to appear out of the sewer, directly in front of Tails and Amy. I would be perfectly okay with this in most instances, but up until that point, Adventure 2 established its darker tone, touting a more "realistic" (term used super loosely) and involved story and then Knuckles comes out of literally nowhere so he could stick around for the remainder of the story. I could go on about other problems I had with that games plot, but I've shit on it enough. It's my second favorite 3D Sonic game of all time, but after each and every playthrough the story begins to fall apart more and more.


Enough of Adventure. I like what you said about Black Knight, and while I'll never go back to play that game any time soon, the story was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I'll still go back and watch some of the cutscenes from time to time.

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  • 1 year later...

I would have to say Sonic Adventure 2 had the best gameplay an story. Why you may ask? Simple really, Sonic Adventure 2 had a more serious story and it was just entertaining. The gameplay was fun for the most part. It had a feeling of effort put into it. What I mean by that is Sonic Adventure 2's gameplay was trying to do something different and fresh and in my opinion I think it did well.

So yeah that's what I think.

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Best gameplay, I'm gonna have to get back to you on that...


In terms of best story, Sonic Unleashed is my pick! A great mix of comedy and seriousness, a wonderful friendship between Sonic and Chip and overall was just plain enjoyable. 

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Gameplay: SA1. I think it has the best Sonic-gameplay in the entire 3D-series with great control and level desing. Tails-gameplay has to be my favourite gameplaystyle in the entire series. And while I would have preferred to have Knuckles to play similar to above mentioned, I have fun with his stages because of they are well structured. Gamma is fine, I seriously think his gameplaystyle is better than mech-shooting in SA2. Amy is boring (especially Hot Shelter) but nothing unbearable. Big is not that bad because at least it's over very fast.

I love Sonic 3&K almost as much but I just prefer 3D-games.

Story: SA1, it is fine in terms of personal stories but they don't work together so well. And Big and Gamma don't mean nothing in overall story so why was their inclusion necessary? SA2 has better overall plot but there were some plotholes like that space rocket, how Sonic learned to use Chaos control (I guess that person, who is capable of using it doesn't need to learn that, that person just need to say "Chaos control" with emerald) and the whole thing with Gerald could have been explained better. Sonic Heroes story is fine although some things are just stupid. One thing that just really bothers me is that why I need to get 7 Chaos emeralds. I mean, doesn't Shadow have one of them all the time?

Sonic 06: I think I have already explained enough why it's story is just so bad. Generations story is almost completely nonexistent. And while I like Lost worlds story, I can't really talk about the game since I haven't played it (I watched let's play of the game).

So what is my favourite story: Sonic 3 and Knuckles. It's simple but I really like that some moments just feel cinematic. As far as I think, there also isn't any major plotholes.

So, best mix between story and gameplay is Sonic 3&K

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